Coffee and Customer Expectations

In the wake of the easing of lockdown restrictions, consumers have become more eager to visit cafés and coffee shops again – whether that is as part of their commute to work or a leisurely catch-up with friends on the weekends.


It is estimated that the UK coffee market is worth £918 million. Experts predict that the UK coffee market will grow faster than the American market in the next five years, at a rate of 10.5% CAGR.


Although this is great news for the industry, it also reminds us just how high consumer expectations are when it comes to enjoying coffee outside the home.


Considering how many people have become accustomed to making their own beverages during lockdown, the average person’s knowledge and expectations have grown exponentially. 


As a result, consumers are seeking a wider selection of hot beverages as well as more information about the quality of the drinks provided. Global flavours, plant-based milks, and conscious consumption are just a few of the trends shaping the future of the coffee scene.


Indulgers or Purists


Coffee can be enjoyed in a variety of ways, but in general, coffee consumers can be divided into two groups: Indulgers and Purists. 


Those who indulge view coffee as a treat and expect their cup to include milk, foam, chocolate powder, etc. These are the latte, cappuccino, and macchiato drinkers who prefer to have special ingredients added to their drinks. 


Purists, on the other hand, view their coffee as a unique treat in itself. It is their passion to learn about the subtle nuances of high-quality coffee and the different characteristics each cup offers. 


Sustainability & Traceability


There will be more pressure on coffee shops, cafes, brewers, and roasters to reduce their carbon emissions. Consumers are increasingly choosing to steer clear of companies damaging the environment in favour of those taking steps to protect it.


Plant-based milks are becoming increasingly popular because of both their health benefits and their low carbon footprint. 


A study conducted by the University of Oxford indicates that one glass of dairy milk generates nearly three times more greenhouse gas emissions than its plant-based alternative.


Conscious Coffee Consumption


Consumers are becoming more conscious of where their coffee comes from and are changing their purchasing habits as a result. 


According to the National Coffee Association, more than 53% of coffee drinkers would prefer to purchase coffee that is good for the environment, the farmers, and the communities where it is produced.


In addition to valuing environmental responsibility, consumers are willing to align with brands that can guarantee product traceability.


Health & Wellbeing


The majority of coffee drinkers are looking for more than just a quick boost of energy. In recent years, consumers have come to expect more health benefits from the beverages they consume on a daily basis, and they are also paying attention to how they can obtain these benefits. 


Despite not containing the same levels of protein or calcium as dairy milk, plant-based milk offers consumers a number of other benefits, as they are lactose-free, low calorie, rich in vitamins, and lower in saturated fat and cholesterol than dairy products. 

While almond and oat milk dominate the market, consumers have multiple options to satisfy their preferences regarding texture, flavor, and nutritional value.


As part of their efforts to improve their health, many people will aim to reduce their sugar intake. It is likely that syrups, chocolates, or other sweeteners will be reduced. 


Since black coffee doesn’t appeal to everyone, it is likely that flavored coffee beans will gain popularity in the future. 



Cold Coffee Demand Increases


While hot coffee remains the most popular format, cold coffee is rapidly gaining in popularity, especially among younger Millennial and Gen Z consumers. 


Considering that iced tea has replaced traditional hot tea as the drink of choice for younger generations, many have predicted that cold coffee will outpace hot coffee as the drink of preference within the next decade.


Cold coffee can be customised with milks, alternative sweeteners, and unique flavors, and it extends the timeframe in which it can be consumed during the day much as iced tea does.


As well as being able to be enjoyed at different times of the day, cold coffee can be customised to be either a classic breakfast beverage or an end-of-day thirst quencher, helping to maximise traffic throughout the day.


Global Speciality Coffees 


Despite the majority of consumers purchasing mainstream coffee blends, there is a growing demand (and willingness to pay) for high-quality speciality coffees. 


The desire to have access to global flavours is considered critical for the younger generation when it comes to their coffee. 


This younger generation of coffee drinkers demands a more diverse selection of flavours, including unique fruits, spices, and unorthodox ingredients.


Premium Blends


Blends have played a crucial role in the coffee industry for many years. Nonetheless, they are often overlooked and do not receive the level of attention they deserve, unlike their single-origin counterparts.


A coffee blend is typically made by combining two or more single-origin coffees to create a unique flavor profile at a lower cost. Due to this combination, blends of coffee have been perceived as less appealing by the enthusiast community, which prefers single-origin specialty coffees.


Over the past several years, there has been a growing interest in premium blended coffee among many industry professionals. The combination of two origins allows coffee roasters/brewers to create unique and complex flavour profiles that a single origin roast would not be able to replicate. 




Your awareness of coffee trends and consumer expectations as a landlord will benefit your establishment and facilitate the securement of customers today and in the future. 


When filling a unit, make sure that your partners possess the experience and industry knowledge necessary to assist you in meeting the needs and interests of your venue customers.